There. I said it. I must be one of the cool kids now. Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, The Verge and a bunch of other sites and blogs that should know better today are calling Snapseed the Instagram rival — many of them in the headline of their post. I’ll bet most of those writers hadn’t even heard of Snapseed until today. If they had, they would know that the two are not rivals. They are far from it. Snapseed is about photography and creating the best image. Instagram is about connecting with people and sharing photos. I don’t know of anyone saying “follow me back on the Snapseed network.”
One thing the two apps have in common is that they were both recently purchased by the two biggest players in the game.
The goal for many a start up is to get bought out, make fat cash, as founding visionaries get a seat on the board, and promise that the acquired company will be run “independently under our umbrella.” I’m happy that the teams of both Instagram and Snapseed have gotten their payday. Well done. I also think today’s announcement starts the death knell of Snapseed as we know it.
Google doesn’t have a great track record of letting acquired companies run as standalone entities. All of its current properties are very tightly integrated with Google. Unless you’re concerned about privacy and information mining, that’s not necessarily bad, but it’s much different than the way Snapseed operates now.
I don’t share the same view as many others who have reported this today. I don’t think this acquisition is Google’s quick and easy attempt at creating a social network to rival Instagram. I see this as Google trying to beef up all of the offerings in its photo products portfolio. I’m afraid I don’t see Google in the off-the-shelf imaging software business or in the App Store business, five bucks at a time.
I think the upcoming release of Snapseed for Android will immediately add more clout to the ‘Droid Photography platform. I’m unaware of any high-end photo editing apps currently available for Android. Sorry, Droidographers, but on the iPhone, there are far better image editors than Photoshop Express. I could not find any Droid photo apps comparable to Snapseed, Filterstorm, PhotoForge2 or PhotoGene2. I think we’ll see expedited development for other, smaller screen Android devices as well. Continued development is good and cross-platform support benefits all mobile photographers.
Over time, I see Google beefing up Picasa’s features using technology and algorithms from Nik’s desktop suite of plugins — HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Sharpener Pro. Or, imagine Google beefing up its own Camera or Picasa app for Android with the pro-quality features of Snapseed. With today’s announcement, Google just bought the tools and the talent to jumpstart both projects.
Recently, Google purchased Sparrow, a third-party GMail client for Mac. Google then immediately mothballed the app, moving Sparrow’s five employees into “other projects for GMail.” Prior to that, the search giant bought social advertising service Meebo and shifted all of its employees to Google+. Google has a long history of mining startups for talent, integrating teams, and shuttering acquisitions. However, past performance is no guarantee they’ll do the same thing here.
Right now, I believe Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg when he says that there are no plans for “making (Instagram) come into our infrastructure” — not right away, at least. With Google’s history of assimilating startups and their talent, I can’t say I’m as confident that won’t happen with Nik and Snapseed. I have to say that right now I’m a little concerned over the long-term future of this premier photo editing app on the iOS platform. I’m afraid that under Google, we’ll see Snapseed for iOS languish, relegated to bug fix releases, while its development team is reassigned to Google’s other properties.
There’s a lot of love for Snapseed on the iOS platform — currently over 9 million users. And I’m happy for the Nik Software team — good on ya! I hope I’m very wrong about Google’s next moves.
What do you think about Google’s acquisition of Nik Software and Snapseed? Let us know in the talkback below.